by Alex Hager
Elon University president Leo Lambert announced that he will be stepping down from his position on January 1, 2018 in an email to the Elon community on Monday morning. Lambert has been president since January 1999.
Lambert originally made his announcement in a meeting with the Elon board of trustees on Feb. 10. He plans to stay in his position until a successor is hired and then transition into a role as president emeritus and professor following a sabbatical year.
Lambert has had profound impact on the university and its community, as the campus has experienced significant growth and change in terms of facilities, student body size, academic mission, and national reputation.
Renowned for his personable nature, Lambert was as much a figurehead of Elon as he was its strategic leader. Members of the Elon community reacted to the news Monday morning, sharing memories of interactions and reflections of his legacy on social media.
“My first day of class at Elon as a freshman I was so lost,” said Jennie Hook, a 2016 Elon alumna, in a tweet. “President Lambert saw I was stressed and walked me to my first class! I will never forget that day. He would always give you a few minutes of his time to chat, no matter how busy he was. Love Leo!”
Others shared Hook’s sentiment, as many students recalled casual interactions with Lambert during his time as president.
“I sat next to [Lambert] and his wife during dinners,” said junior Courtney Campbell, who shared time with Lambert during a Winter Term trip to Spain and Portugal this January. “He was friendly and we had good conversations about the university.”
After a presidential tenure that oversaw many significant changes to the school, the search for a qualified successor is underway. In a video message attached to the announcement email, Lambert spoke on the role of the next president and their involvement in the “Elon Leads” strategic fundraising campaign, which will begin in 2018.
“In recruiting a new president at this time,” said Lambert, “we can ensure continuity of leadership for these key initiatives, as well as anticipate the creation and implementation of the university’s next strategic plan. This will allow Elon to continue to make progress on many fronts.”
The university has announced plans to find a new president, outlining the committee that will perform the search.
While Elon’s administration carries out their search process, students have acknowledged that Lambert’s presidency will be a tough act to follow. Junior Ben Driscoll said that the next president will need to be “well rounded with students, not just a leader within the administration.”